Paddy procurement drops to five-year low; Telangana farmers face around Rs. 3,000 cr loss

Compared to previous years, the Congress government in Telangana has significantly reduced its paddy purchase. The recent figures reveal that paddy procurement has dropped to a five-year low. 

Despite no reduction in the area dedicated to paddy cultivation, the procurement of paddy has diminished. While 64.16 lakh tonnes of paddy were procured in the 2019-20 period, the civil supplies corporation has only procured 48 lakh tonnes in the latest 2023-24 Yasangi season). This marks the first decrease in paddy purchases during a Yasangi season since the previous BRS government, which had seen a consistent increase in paddy purchases each year starting from 2019-20. 

Comparisons are being made to conditions that existed before 2018-19 when, due to inadequate irrigation facilities, the paddy harvest was lower, and paddy purchases did not exceed 37 lakh tonnes. However, the situation began to improve significantly from 2019-20, when the Civil Supplies Corporation made a record purchase of 64.16 lakh tonnes of paddy. 

In 2020-21, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a historic 92.28 lakh tonnes of paddy were procured. Even when the central government imposed restrictions on rice cultivation in 2021-22, purchases still reached 50.39 lakh tonnes. Last year, 65.82 lakh tonnes were procured. However, the current 2023-24 period has seen a notable decline to 48 lakh tonnes, marking a reduction of 18 lakh tonnes compared to the previous year.

Despite a slight decrease in paddy cultivation from 56.44 lakh acres last Yasangi to 50.59 lakh acres this season, the significant drop in paddy purchases is raising concerns. The Congress government paid Rs. 10,547 crore to farmers for 48 lakh tonnes of paddy in this Yasangi, compared to Rs. 13,531 crore paid by the previous administration for 65.82 lakh tonnes. This reduction in payments by Rs. 3,000 crore is significant and has led to arguments that farmers have suffered financial losses due to the government’s negligence in paddy procurement.

The paddy purchase target for this Yasangi was 75 lakh tonnes, but only 48 lakh tonnes were procured. Critics argue that this shortfall is indicative of government failure. The Congress government was slow to open paddy buying centers. Additionally, untimely rains resulted in wet paddy, but the pace of procurement did not increase accordingly, forcing farmers to sell to private traders at lower prices to mitigate their losses.

Under the leadership of then-Chief Minister KCR, the BRS government achieved significant milestones in the agricultural sector. The restoration of tanks through Mission Kakatiya and the construction of the Kaleshwaram project significantly boosted irrigation, leading to a steady increase in paddy cultivation from 2019-20 onwards. Telangana set an all-time record in paddy cultivation within a single year, underscoring the effectiveness of the previous administration’s initiatives.